Martin Luther King Would Still Fuck Your Shit Up (A Call to Democrats to Sack Up):
Here's one you might not have heard: Speaking to a small group of protesters outside Santa Rita prison in California, on January 14, 1968, where he had visited Joan Baez and other jailed anti-war activists and draft resisters, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, in remarks that ought to resonate not just with President Obama, but with cowardly Democrats and everyone who thinks that moderation works:
"They have supported us in a very real way in our struggle for civil rights...I see these two struggles as one struggle. There can be no justice without peace. And there can be no peace without justice. People ask me from time to time, 'Aren't you getting out of your field? Aren't you supposed to be working in civil rights?' They go on to say the two issues are not to be mixed. And my only answer is that I have been working too long and too hard now against segregated public accommodations to end up at this stage of my life segregating my moral concerns. For I believe absolutely that justice is indivisible and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And I want to make it clear that I am going to continue with all of my might and all of my energy and with all of my action to oppose that abominable, evil, unjust war in Vietnam.
"Now let me say this: I see some very dangerous trends developing in our country, trends of oppression and repression and suppression, and I see a definite move on the part of the government to go out now and silence dissenters and to crush the draft resistance movement. Now we cannot allow this to happen...And let us continue to work passionately and unrelentingly to end this cruel and senseless war in Vietnam. I don't have to go through all of the things that this war is doing to corrode the values of our nation.
"Suffice it to say that the war in Vietnam has all but torn up the Geneva Accord. It has strengthened the military industrial complex of our nation. It has exacerbated the tensions between continents and races. The war in Vietnam has...played havoc with our domestic destinies. And I can never forget the fact that we spend about $500,000 to kill every enemy soldier in Vietnam and we spend only about $53 a year for every individual who is categorized as poverty-stricken in our so-called 'war against poverty,' which isn't even a skirmish against poverty. And I say that there is a great need for a revolution of values.
"And I say to you in conclusion that we must continue to stand up and we must continue to follow the dictates of our conscience, even if that means breaking unjust laws. Henry David Thoreau said in his essay on civil disobedience that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. And I do not plan to cooperate with evil at any point.
"Somebody said to me not too long ago, 'Dr. King, don't you think you're hurting your leadership by taking a stand against the war in Vietnam? Aren't people who once respected you gonna lose respect for you? And aren't you hurting the budget of your organization?'
"And I had to look at that person and say, 'I'm sorry, sir, but you don't know me. I am not a consensus leader. And I do not determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Leadership Conference or by taking a Gallup poll of the majority opinion.'
"Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but he's a molder of consensus. And on some positions, cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expedience asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?'
"But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?'
"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right. And that is where I stand today and that is where I hope you will continue to stand so that we can speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters all over the world and righteousness like a mighty stream. And we will speed up the day when men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and nations will not rise up against nations neither they will not start a war anymore and I close by saying as we sing in the old Negro spiritual, 'I Ain't Gonna Study War No More.'"
Pieces of this would appear in speeches he gave until he died. Afterward, asked by a reporter about "escalated non-violence," King answered that anger must have a "constructive and creative channel of expression, we've got to escalate non-violence to the point where we make it much more militant, much more demanding, much more insistent, even if it takes on the dimensions of civil disobedience. I feel that non-violence must now be strong enough to be an alternative to riots on the one hand but also an alternative to timid supplications for justice on the other."
We forget, amid all the deification, what a tough bastard King was. We admire him because he was uncompromising and principled, and also because he fought like lives depended on it. Because they did.
Later a man asked King if he should burn his draft card. King asked the man if he opposed the war. When the man said he did, King told the man to resist, even though it meant breaking the law.